Aug 28, 11, 4:30 pm
Have done a lot of searches here and on other sites about driving between the Amalfi Coast area and the ferries to Sicily on the A3. Many say avoid it due to construction or Italian drivers; others say it is fine. But have not found many recent posts about the road conditions and specifically what terrains you travel through in winter?
I often drive overseas, even in less developed countries -- just getting out and seeing the land is one of the things I enjoy most. And I have driven in Italy several times before. So not worried about being behind the wheel in southern Italy. More concerned about weather issues/delays in winter and how far google maps "473 km, 5 hours 23 mins" is off from the real time it will take driving the A3 from Castellammare di Stabia (where we are staying near Sorrento) to Villa San Giovanni.
My ideal timeline is doing it over two days with an overnight halfway down -- perhaps Consenza? That would give us a 2-3 hour drive on day two to the ferry -- and another hour on the other side to our hotel in Taormina.
Any updates or thoughts are appreciated!
Aug 29, 11, 5:46 pm
I drive the A3 quite often, usually from Rome to a place near Lamezia, and less often from there to Reggio Calabria.
Works are not a real issue, although the term 'work' is misleading. Often, it's a sort of rebuilding of an entire leg of the motorway, including new tunnels, new bridges and such.
Some legs, mostly running through mountain areas, are 'challenging' especially in winter because of the sequence of tunnels and bridges.
The real warning is about weather conditions in January. On some leg you can easily find ice and you may have to deal with snowfalls, especially between Padula-Buonabitacolo and Frascineto. Snow equipment may be required.
Distance between services stations may be longer than usual, although not very long. Anyway, in Italy there're road signs showing the distance to the next ones, so you can plan ahead.
The very last leg, from Vibo to Reggio, is quite a pain, likely the worst IMHO. You have to slow down because of the path itself, the road conditions (poor maintenance on segments that will be subject to major works) and the works, anyway not to the extent you have to change drammatically your plans.
The sector in Calabria has bad road signs, especially between the Cosenza area up to Lamezia (Altilia, Grimaldi...), with 'obsolete' signs that have not been removed, or mismanaged signs - eg sudden (far) lower speed limits immediately after tunnels.
Google is quite reliable. Obviously you have to consider stops at service stations and such, but it's not far from 'real life' and I can say that the Rome-Lamezia planned time is maybe longer than the actual time.
Aug 30, 11, 7:13 am
i ahve never driven south of rome. in the north, snow maintainance of the auto routes is excellent. however, an entire side/section is shut down while the plows go through. again in the north, if your credit card is not chipped, it will not work at self service pumps. you have to feed the machine small bills. a lot of the pumps go self service on off hours and weekends. try to get a diesel hatchback. cover the back if you expect to find anything there when you return from even lunch or the bathroom. if you park overnight, find a pay parking place, preferable within the hotel.
Aug 30, 11, 9:28 pm
again in the north, if your credit card is not chipped, it will not work at self service pumps. you have to feed the machine small bills. a lot of the pumps go self service on off hours and weekends.
Actually most of the service stations don't accept credit card at all because they don't want to pay the fees - their margin on the appalling fuel price is very low. North or South doesn't matter.
I can't remember the last time I managed to pay the self service by credit card or even by fuel payment card, and even when there's staff, it is not uncommon they try to get cash instead of payments by credit cards.
Anyway the credit card issue is not related to to motorways, since you always have both self-service and staff available and you can always pay by credit card.